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Arya Samaj Movement

The Arya Samaj is a reform movement and a religious/social organization which was formally established in Bombay on April 7, 1875 by Swami Dayanand Saraswati with some principles that are based purely on God, society and nature. He said that all actions should be performed with prime objectives of benefiting mankind, as opposed to following dogmatic rituals of revering idols and symbols. His main message was for Hindus, to go back to the roots of the Vedas. By doing this, he felt that Hindus would be able to improve the depressive religious, social, political, and economic conditions prevailing in the country at that time. He voiced his opinions against idolater and the pointless emphasis on empty ritualism, and stood against man made dictates such as caste by birth and women-exclusion from reading Vedas. Many Indians converted to Muslims and Christianity forcibly or got more facilities, or they were insulted in the Hindu religion, specifically the Dalits. Dayanand tried to improve the Hindu religion to stop the conversions.

Swami Dayanand saw the degraded conditions of the Hindus. His heart bled at the sight of millions of people who were weak, disjointed, deranged and helpless. They were dominated by a few egotistical and power driven individuals with hidden agendas. He wanted to unite all people together to cast off the artificial and self-imposed bonds that tied them to their present position. He wanted them to remove from their eyes the bandage that prevented them from seeing the light of truth and liberty. He wanted the society to rise pure and strong from the prevailing corruption, ignorance and internal strife; to stand on its own feet and take its proper place among the nations of the world. He spoke the truth and did not believe in superstitions.

The primary mission of Arya Samaj was to eradicate ignorance and poverty. Arya Samaj believed in one God know by the name Om. It condemned animal sacrifices, ancestor worship, pilgrimage, priest-craft, untouchability, and child marriage. It established many schools, colleges, and universities. Swami declared equal rights for Dalits; the right of education, right of reciting Vedas, right for inter-dining, right for marriage, and the right to fetch water from common wells. The cause was taken up by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar and after freedom, the Indian constitution adopted to provide equal social, religious, and cultural rights to the Dalits or Harijans.

Swami Dayanand’s views were rejected by Hindu orthodoxy/orthodox Brahmins. In Dayanand's view, arbitrary and selfish Brahmans were the root cause for what he saw as a degenerate of Hinduism; the prevalence of idolater ’blind faith’ and ‘social evils’ like child marriage, the abuses of the caste system, and the suppression of women in Hindu society. The Pandits had neglected study of the Vedas, which obtained the guidelines for the perfect society. DAV (Dayanand Anglo Vedic) school was established in Lahore in 1886 and became a college in 1889. Many DAV schools, colleges, and universities were established in India by the Arya Samaj.

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